Red Labor

Posted: April 19, 2008 in creativity

Here’s a project I absolutely love to read about: Red Labor, who believe in transparency and sharing, which lead them to an experiment in hosting their latest art piece and its source photos as a download for remixing.

What is it all about? Red Labor is  hosting an open remix.

Like in the world of music, technological and artistic trends have changed the way images are being made. But also, like in music, the old encrusted establishment digs in its formidable heels. It fights the new world by declaring sharing illegal, and insisting on the distinction between original and copy to uphold the fiction of ownership.

And it is a fiction. No author can claim absolute uniqueness. Artistic creation is a process that starts at birth and ends when production ceases. In that lifetime inspiration comes from millions of sources whose experience is stored in our memories, recalled and re-assembled – which is exactly what is happening in the digital art world today. Only difference: the re-interpretation is direct. In the old analogue days, no one would have copied a Rembrandt or a Hockney for the sole purpose to incorporate it into a mashup – too much work. People kept the images in their heads and then elaborated on it – and they still do. Yet I have never heard any of those artists who work from their memory banks (or their agents) paying royalties to the artist’s teachers, parents, friends or the cultural heroes of past and present (or their descendants). Instead, they are happy to share in the collective heritage without being willing themselves to pass on freely their own their own resulting creations – unless they can cash in on them. That is hypocrisy based on fiction!

Red Labor defies this narrow-minded sense of self-importance and anxiety-based stifling of the collective creative spirit. Their objective is to share their art for the common good, for the benefit to “culture and humanity”. And they see their ideas and actions as the next logical step up from the development in the digital world, which makes copying and re-assembling ever easier and therefore almost forces upon us the concept of unhindered sharing as a new source of art production.

Does that mean people won’t make money anymore? Of course not – they’ll make money in new ways. How beneficial that is is not the issue right here; all this argument address is the irrational fear to let go of the old to embrace the new.

Red Labor decided open up all future projects and offer the original layered Photoshop file as well as associative resource files for remixing. Sharing makes them happy.

They got an Amazon S3 account for file storage and they’re releasing their files under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license. Download their elements and remix them in your own art. There should be some interesting art that will come out of this. At some point they’ll review all of the uploads and their favorite pieces will be posted on their website. If the emerging artists are interested maybe they’ll get a small edition of prints made and sell them on Resist Today; they’ll work out details like that with those artists.

Email them your remix (proper upload form coming shortly).

Check out their website for more background info and details on their source material.


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